By Paul Nilsen
TTT Riga won't have to improve too much this forthcoming season to beat their efforts in what was a disappointing campaign last time out in EuroLeague Women when they could only muster two wins in ten games.
|Point guard Shavonte Zellous averaged 17.0 points and solid 5.0 rebounds alongside 4.2 assists for Besiktas last year|
The Latvian club are continuing to quietly assemble a team they hope can get them back on track. After all, while qualification to the knockout stages may be a little too ambitious, having won three games in 2008 and four games in 2009, you have to think that 2010 represented a step in the wrong direction.
Not able to compete with the bigger clubs in terms of resources, the rule changes to eligibility might just work in their favour - as might being drawn in Group A. They were in Group A last year only this time it looks (on paper at least) to not be quite as daunting.
However it is their choice oif imports that could be critical. They have opted for Shavonte Zellous to lead the charge and provide plenty of firepower. Certainly if the guard can replicate the form she showed last year in EuroCup Women with Besiktas when she averaged over 17 points per game.
Zellous will arrive in Latvia looking to get back to her best. After a highly impressive rookie season with Detroit Shock last year when she was of course named in the All Rookie Team, her second campaign in the WNBA has been decidedly more difficult in Indiana with the Fever.
Of course when it comes to that All Rookie Team from last year, Zellous was in good company alongside the likes of DeWanna Bonner and Angel McCoughtry who both tore it up in EuroLeague Women last season. Perhaps the time has now come for Zellous to make her mark.
|Anda Eibele has a lot of experience from playing in EuroLeague Women, the Olympics and EuroBasket Women and is expected to lead her team to better results this year |
The decision to plump for Jacinta Monroe meanwhile is fascinating since she has endured a frustrating rookie season in the WNBA with Washington Mystics. Clearly the club have still seen enough and of course watched her with Florida State to think she can make an impression.
As we all know, potential is all well and good but the pressure will be even bigger than ever on those Americans taking up import spots and clubs could be more demanding than ever in expecting production. The heat will be on for the forward although on the flip-side, there will probably be no other player so desperate to get out and prove her worth.
This week TTT Riga have also added another young player to their ranks in Karline Nimane who arrives from arch rivals SK Cesis and having grabbed successive bronze medals at U20 level in a Latvia vest.
The acquisition of Nimane follows on from some important signings earlier in the summer when the club once again opted to build their challenge around a core of home-grown players such as Kristina Karklina, Anda Eibele, Ieva Veinberga, Liga Surkusa and Lithuanian Daina Staugaitiene.
One thing is for certain, the club will have another uphill task in ensuring they achieve success although surpassing the two wins they managed last time would be a great start.